Guelph, Ont., July 18, 2019 – The City of Guelph will postpone a discussion about the Baker District redevelopment after learning that projected costs for the current library design are higher than they were understood to be when a staff report was placed on City Council’s agenda for Monday, July 22.
Three days ago, City staff received the first cost summary of the current library design and were surprised to learn the forecasted cost is in fact $64.4 million—$14.4 million higher than understood at the time the report was authored.
The staff report, which recommended developing an alternative design for the new main library was informed by a shortfall in Guelph’s City Building reserve fund. Whereas Council endorsed a 2017 business case that projected a cost of $46 million to build a new library, financial pressures since that time—including a cap on development charges that can be used to fund the library, the ten year funded capital plan, and potential impacts of recent provincial legislation have created a shortfall.
In addition to the higher than expected cost summary, Council and staff understand that a library that would differ from the one currently proposed is disappointing for some.
Acting CAO Scott Stewart acknowledges there are various options Council can consider. “This pause allows us to work through various scenarios, and then help Council understand the implications of each as it works to balance affordability with its vision for a new library. A smaller library is one option. Reducing the scope of other tax-funded capital projects, increasing property taxes, an enhanced fundraising campaign, and/or introducing a special levy are others. These are among a handful of ways Council might choose to narrow the funding gap if the current library design is the preferred option.”
Staff will schedule a public session for Council in the fall, at which Council can explore the implications of the various options for narrowing the funding gap.
Anyone wishing to delegate on the subject will be able to do so at a future meeting of Council.
Scott Stewart, Acting Chief Administrative Officer
City of Guelph